4.30.2009

Moment

Current Reading: Why We Suck by Denis Leary
Current Music: Different Kind of Wild by Bill Deasy
Smells: Coffee, empty cup
Mood: So-so
Sounds: Telephone
Temperature: 63 degrees and cloudy
Thoughts: Inhale, exhale then repeat

4.29.2009

Welcome to Craig Photography

Elizabeth & I discuss a little about our craft and why we love being photographers.

4.28.2009

Photo of the Week


Camera: Nikon D70
Exposure: 6 sec (6)
Aperture: f/22
Focal Length: 18 mm
ISO Speed: 200
Exposure Bias: 0 EV

4.27.2009

Anonymous Society - Short Story

September 10, 2001, one day before the world would change forever. I am sitting in a pub in Pittsburgh International Airport drinking a beer, watching a lounge act and waiting to board my flight to Boston which has been delayed for two hours.

The music is odd, comical, and upbeat; one singer and one guitar player: The lead singer has a trash-Vegas look going on. Wearing a tiger-stripped velvet jacket, Jim Morrison red leather pants, swigging vodka from a hillbilly-jug and he keeps pointing to this girl at the table in front of him, “Kitty this one for you”. Running his hand through his shinny black hair, which is most likely a wig?

The guitarist is a cross between Paco De Lucia and a Seinfeld character. He is wearing a white puffy shirt made famous on that sitcom. He comes across as a real existential asshole. He is sitting on a stool playing his guitar all the while looking at an open book that he has placed next to his chair on a small table. I am betting the book is some kind of eco-save-something-type of book. Additionally on his side table is a martini glass filled with almonds, a small lighted candle, and a Buddha statue. Of course he is not wearing shoes and has a scruffy beard. Yep – he is an extensional asshole.

I ask the bartender for a shot of Jack and a beer chaser. He gives me a “your gonna need it if you plan on spending the next two hours listening to these guys performer” look.

The music stops abruptly and the lead singer walks to center stage and stands quiet, prayerfully for a minute and then says “I am Dak Davis. To my right is Johnny Ravioli on guitar and we are Anonymous Society”. For our next set we will perform the greatest hits from the collected works of Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra.” Just then both he and Johnny Ravioli make the sign of the cross after saying the names of Dean and Frank aloud.

Bartender looks at me, “They do that every time they speak those names, what a couple of a-holes.”

They start playing the “Girl from Ipanema”. It’s good. Next they move into Dino’s “Ain’t That a Kick in the Head”, also good. Maybe an extensional asshole and a man trapped in the Rat-Pack can entertain me.

For the next forty-five-sound-filled-minutes I listened to Frank and Dean with shots of Jack Daniels easing my mind. Anonymous Society – rock, in a flamenco-impromptu-mascots-entertainment-experience, sort of way.

Dak Davis exhales into the microphone, “Kitty lets get fresh vodka”. He walks off stage and grabs the hand of a Peg Bundy looking women. Big hair, low cut tiger striped dress, small red purse, giant black Jackie-O sunglasses, (let me remind you that we are indoors) and a pair of the highest heels known to man or woman. Dak lights her cigarette. I am amazed that her hair didn’t go up in flames.

Johnny Ravioli turns to his miniature statue of Buddha and bows three times. Closes his book, Integral Ecology (I was so right... eco-save-something-type of book…he is an extensional asshole). He places his guitar back into its case and covers it with a Frank Sinatra blanket, proceeds to make the sign of the cross, blows out his candle and walks over to the bar and sit by me.

“Johnny Ravioli, flamenco guitarist of Anonymous Society”. “Nice to meet you”, I say. We shake hands, he doesn’t ask my name. “What are you doing playing music in an airport” I ask. “It’s the only place where a new audience comes to you every night, no traveling required”.

“There’s Las Vegas” I say to him. “We’re not that good. Plus I hate the heat and Dak has to attend the same Catholic Church every morning at 8am, St Andrew’s Cathedral over in Bellevue. He hasn’t missed a mass in thirty two years. He says it’s something about his penance for being such a terrible altar boy in his youth. Then there is also the strip club down in McKees Rocks that he goes to every night at 8pm. Dak always says the a.m. is for Jesus and the p.m. is for the Devil”. I ask “Does Dak have a thirty two year run at the strip club?” “No, just twelve…he met Kitty there eleven years ago”.

Laughing, I offer to buy Johnny a drink. “Thanks”, he said, “I’ll have a scotch with milk on the rocks. It’s what monks drink for longer meditation sessions. Protein for the body and transcendence for the soul on ice, not a bad drink you should try one”. No thanks.

“Johnny let me ask you why “Anonymous Society” for a band’s name?” Johnny answers “It’s a homage to the Rat-Pack and plus the name Mafia was already taken by an authentic Italian harpsichord and violin group over in Oakland”. That’s too bad. “True’that, True’that”, Johnny said then finishes off his drink.

Johnny thanks me for the drinks and hands me a copy of an Anonymous Society CD. “That’s for the drink, enjoy. I gotta get ready for the next set”.

On my third Jack Daniels with a beer chaser I stare at the CD cover artwork. It’s a blank white album cover, very original, I laugh to myself, homage to Frank and Dean (I make the sign of the cross being a lapsed Catholic it didn’t feel disrespectful) and rip off the Beatles most successful album cover. At the bottom of the cover in small print it read: Low End Spirituality as performed by Anonymous Society. Above the word Society was a small silhouette photo of Dak and Johnny on stage exactly as they are tonight.

Flip the CD over to read the song list:
My Sadistic Cat,
Ego is a WE,
My Reptilian Brain Stem Hurts,
Narcissism Sandwich,
I am Awakening to Reality and then Going Back to Sleep,
FOCUSout
Masquerading Mystic…

What no Frank or Dean cover tunes? I say out load, the bartender stares at me so I order another Jack with a beer chaser.

Johnny Ravioli walks on stage, picks his guitar up out of the case, carefully folding the Frank Sinatra blanket, and makes the sign of cross. He lights the candle, opens his book, eats five almonds, bows three times to the Buddha statue, sits in his chair, tunes his guitar, then stares off.
Dak jumps on stage and runs his fingers through his black shiny hair. Yep, definitely a wig. He shouts out – “one, two, one, two, three, four…”

Then silence. No guitar, no music. Dak looks over at Johnny and yells, “Quit looking at my girl Kitty’s tits and play that damm guitar”. He takes a swig of vodka from his hillbilly-jug.

Johnny yells out from his chair “I am Awakening to Reality and then Going Back to Sleep”. I laugh out loud; track five on the white album.

Over the Airport load speaker…”Flight to Boston is now departing from gate B8.”

I gather my stuff, pay my tab and leave the bartender a generous tip. I smile and wave goodbye to the members of Anonymous Society, think to myself about this brief, entertaining experience and wished that I would’ve ordered some food to go with all the jack and beer that I drank.

Sitting on the plane I pop the CD into my laptop. Double clicking the CD icon to play it, two quotes appear before the music will start.

“I do not care about my obituary; I only care about my spirit and vodka.”
- Dak Davis, lead singer of Anonymous Society
“I play this music to chase out the demons.”
- Johnny Ravioli, flamenco guitarist of Anonymous Society

Eight o’clock in the morning I awake in my hotel room in Boston. Turning on the TV I hear the news of an attack on New York's World Trade Center. I think about demons, innocent spirits, lives lost and that I need vodka…lots of vodka.

Later that day I find out that the plane that I exited that night was the same plane that the terrorists had entered onto to act out their evil. I think how I accidentally left behind that CD entitled Low End Spirituality. What an appropriate title to describe the culture of a terrorist’s thinking.

My Reptilian Brain Stem hurts, as I drink vodka to chase out the demons in my head.

4.20.2009

Moment

Current Reading: The Age of the Unthinkable by Joshua Cooper Ramo
Current Music: LotusFlo3r by Prince
Smells: Paint & dust
Mood: Excited
Sounds: Printer
Temperature: 54 degrees & raining
Thoughts: Think like a gardener. (Applicable everywhere)

4.19.2009

40 in 30

Reflective, that is how I feel about turning 40 years old 30 days from today.

Looking back what progress have I made? I can honestly say that I am beginning to be “ok” with who I am. It seems that I have gotten a lot more things right then wrong in my life at 40. I have a wife and daughter that are better than I deserve. I share a business with my wife and daily I work with a purpose. I live in a home that is warm and filled with light and love (with a whole bunch of great photos, guitars, aromas from the kitchen and pitter patter of little feet.)

The greatest lesson that I have learned “so-far” is that having parents in your life as an adult is important. The first twenty years of a child’s life is dedicated to keeping your child alive and well. My parents did that, thanks mom & dad for that. Adults need parents. That is the lesson learned. I still need to be parented too. Advice, structure, wisdom, time, conversation, understanding and all the whatnot’s of a life is needed. Now that I am the father of a 3yr old I understand the importance of being a son at 40 yrs old.

At 40 I believe my work and artistic life have progressed. I am happy about that. I have honed my crafts and cultivated my skills, read books, kept journals, said my prayers and eaten my vegetables. I have played music, taken photos, gotten in shape, written stories, essays and rants even occasionally been published. I have walked in the woods, traveled abroad; I have climbed rocks, drunk wine, ate countless numbers of pizza slices and have kept my dog by my side for the past 16 years.

Perennial work in progress is the who, what and why of my zeal for life. To the next idea, know how much I looking forward to discovering you. The fear of stopping to develop in mind, body and spirit is my muse.

The second 40 years holds the divine mystery in front of me. Raising a daughter to be kind and intelligent, sustaining a business that can be passed down to the next generation, being a good husband, father, son and citizen to the life that has been given to me.

Simple, purposeful and with rhythm - those are the words to describe how I will live out the second set of 40 years to come.

In my eighties I hope I am in the last 20 plus yrs of my life, if I am so blessed. Sharing this journey with my wife I will learn how to oil paint, tinker in my woodshop, enjoy grandchildren and do whatever my wife wants to do, probably travel…nonetheless, if I pick up my dirty socks and place the dirty dishes in the dishwasher I think she will keep me around.

To all the angels, geniuses and genies in a bottle that have guided my way on this journey…thank you, deep bows of gratitude to you.

4.16.2009

Twitter 100 Wanted

Twitter confusion – How can someone follow or have followers that reach into the thousands of people? Is it possible to gleam any worthwhile information from such a large networking-audience?

I am always adding & deleting following/followers on my Twitter page. If you’re negative I delete you, if you’re repetitive I delete you, if you seldom update I delete you. If you can teach me something I follow you, if you make me laugh I follow you, if you can expand my thinking I follow you.

The people I would like to follow must be purposeful.

Twitter experiment - Small social networking on a large platform.

I am looking to follow and be followed by 100 dedicated-purposeful users.

Think about this as an experiment with a catalyst of experiencing different cultures.

Let’s build a "100 twitter club"…you can follow me here.

Workshop

Just signed the contract to teach a workshop @ Silver Eye Center for Photography in PGH, Purposeful Blogging for Photographers



(Event dates & details coming soon…)

4.15.2009

Photo of the Week


Camera: Nikon D200
Exposure: 3 sec (3)
Aperture: f/16
Focal Length: 44 mm
ISO Speed: 100
Exposure Bias: 0 EV

4.14.2009

Books, Wines & a Cycling Platypus

I just read, actually mostly viewed, "Things I learned in my life so far" by graphic designer Stefan Sagmeister. I ordered this book from the library after reading a recommendation. The book is comprised of separated journals all placed in a single sleeve to look like a book. This work is hypnotic in nature.

Tonight I pick up Haruki Murakami and the Music of Words by Jay Rubin. It will have to hold me over until the next Murakami novel 1Q84 is released. The Japan release of this novel is this summer 2009, if anybody knows the U.S. release date is please let me know.

I accidentally stumbled on to Chilean wine a couple of weeks ago, Emiliana Organico. American wine can taste synthetic and heavy. Elizabeth is enjoying the chardonnay and I like carmenere red. We have not enjoyed a wine this much since Italy.

Check out Elizabeth's blog redesign by Chris Miller a.k.a the Cycling Platypus. Chris did a great job and was easy to work with; deep bows of gratitude to Chris for putting up with all our questions and suggestions.

4.13.2009

Halloween Wedding Giveaway Contest!!

The following vendors would like to announce that we are holding a contest to give away a FREE wedding! Read below for all of the exciting details!

Craig Photography$2500 Value
Lavish Events $3000 Value
Wenning Entertainment$1500 Value
Alex’s Flowers $500 Value
Jody’s Pantry$5300 Value
Dress My Chair$2500 Value
Eye Magnet Jewelry$300 Value
All Star Limousines$250 Value
Toast Letterpress$750
Betsy’s Barn

The vendors have come together to give away free Halloween Costume-themed Wedding to one lucky couple!

All you have to do to enter is upload a video on our “Pittsburgh Halloween Wedding Giveaway” Facebook page with you and your fiance and tell us why you think you should win. If you don’t already have a Facebook account, sign up and then enter the search terms “Pittsburgh Halloween Wedding Giveaway” in the “search” tool and our page will come up. Become a “fan” of the site and then scroll down to the “video upload” section of the Facebook page and upload the video you made with your fiance.

–Wedding will be held on 10/31/09 at Betsy’s Barn.
–Must be a costume-themed wedding, ie
–all guests and entire wedding party (including bride and groom) must dress up in a costume to attend.
–Limited to 125 guests (including entire wedding party).
–Must be willing to do on camera and written interviews.
–Winner will be decided by public voting. Anyone can vote and voters can vote any time during the contest by sending an email to the provided email address (pittsburghgiveaway@me.com). One vote per email address. The couple with the most votes wins.–Voting ends begins April 13 and ends August 10. Winner announced on the Pittsburgh Halloween Wedding Giveaway Facebook page August 14.


INCLUDES:
–free day of photography including all edited photos with reprinting rights for printing, and upload to private website.
–free wedding planning services.–free DJ services for reception.
–$500 worth of wedding day flowers.–free catering for 125 guests plus Halloween themed wedding cake.
–free limo service for wedding couple.
–free Halloween decoration service for wedding ceremony and reception
–free venue–free tux rental
–free makeup and hair service for the bride
–free invitations–free fashion jewelry for the bride

Video entries will be received from April 13, 2009 until August 10, 2009. The winner will be announced on August 14, 2009 at 3pm on the Wall of the Pittsburgh Halloween Wedding Giveaway Facebook page.

Good Luck!

4.09.2009

On Being a Prius Owner “so-far”

Things that have disappointed me “so-far” about being a Prius owner:

-People do not applaud when I enter a building.
-Starkbucks does not give me free soy latt├ęs.
-Being an elitist is lonely
-Savings of only 19 cents a month on car insurance.
-I cannot find my car in an Ikea parking lot.
-Al Gore still will not accept my phone calls.
-Nobody cares that I’m an eco-snob.
-No key??? It comes with a smart key which is actually called a fob. I fear all things called “fob”.
-Not sure if the Prius is Scientology approved (read this).
-As of yet to have my name added to the celebrity hybrid drivers list.
-Bumper sticker confusion? Do I place an Apple logo, Vegans are Cool, Enlighten-Up, Coexist on my Prius’s backside?

Things that I love about being a Prius owner “so-far”:

-It’s the coolest iPod accessory ever.
-You don’t have to plug your Prius into to your computer to recharge the batteries.
-I feel closer to Barak Obama.
-Oprah hugged me.
-My Moleskin notebook looks extra cool sitting on the passenger seat.
-Jesus loves me more – this I know is true….

4.08.2009

Photo of the Week

Camera: Nikon D70
Exposure: 0.017 sec (1/60)
Aperture: f/4.5
Focal Length: 70 mm
ISO Speed: 200
Exposure Bias: 0 EV
Flash: Auto, Fired, Return detected

4.07.2009

8 Days - Updates

Monday – Received confirmation that I will teach my fist workshop at Silver Eye Center for Photography in Pittsburgh. (Sneak peak here)

Tuesday – I was ask to be a guest speaker at RMU

Wednesday – We were notified that we were selected for The Knot Best of Weddings 2009 magazine

Thursday – Elizabeth’s project went big time (sneak peak here)

Friday – I had two photos select to be in a book “This is Pittsburgh” that will come out this Fall. (Sneak peak here & here)

Saturday – Wonderful Wedding

Sunday - Wonderful Wedding, which I even got to play guitar at the reception.

Monday – Bought a Prius – finally

Today – Humbled and grateful

~ my thoughts and prayers go out to the families of Pittsburgh Police who lost there life in the line of duty.